This past October, I spoke on a panel at Blissdom Canada about how to monetize your blog and best practices for blogging and generating PR for your blog. One of things I recommended during that panel discussion was purchasing whichever domain name you’ve been using and go to a self-hosted blog.
Bloggers usually choose to start out with a free blog account from blogger.com or wordpress.com because these platforms make it very easy to get up and running and there are no set-up or ongoing costs. Writing a blog on these free and easy platforms is a great way to hone your skills and get comfortable with blogging and blogging software. So why choose self-hosted when these sites are offering a blog-in-a-box approach?
- Own Your Brand. When you choose the free blog option, your blog will have a domain name like myblog.wordpress.com or myblog.blogger.com. But you are blogging to build your business and establish a brand presence, I *highly* recommend going to a self-hosted blog and owning your domain name. Doing so allows you to be in control and sets you apart from your competitors. This also means having a branded email address lending more credibility to your business and brand and adding a level of seriousness to your endeavour. Instead of mybestbiztips AT gmail DOT com you get to brand your correspondence yourname AT mybestbiztips DOT com. Which email would you rather send a business inquiry to? I’m guessing you would prefer to give your business to the branded version. So would most people.
- Boost Your SEO Rankings. WordPress especially can help boost your page ranking. As you post new content and people comment, these actions make being found on search engines much easier. My self-hosted WordPress blog comes with a built-in SEO optimization pack which is easy to use. Bloggers can also choose to boost SEO capabilities by adding a number of third-party SEO plugins, some great examples are here and here.
- Show Me The Money. Many professional bloggers make terrific revenues from their blogs through advertising. If you wish to dabble in Google Adwords or affiliate marketing self-hosting is the way to go because to do otherwise is usually a violation of the site’s ‘Terms of Service’. Moreover, wordpress.com won’t allow you to choose the advertising they put on your blog because they decide what ads get posted. Maintain control over your brand by choosing which advertisers you promote on your blog. Promote brands you support and work with, and leverage partnership opportunities this way too.
- Customize Your Look and Feel. Self-hosted blogs like WordPress give bloggers the option of choosing from thousands of free themes and templates, or buying a premium theme, or designing a customized WordPress theme. This ability to customize the layout and design boosts your blog’s aesthetic appeal and makes it look even more unique and branded which can attract visitors to your website and keep them there for a while as they explore and learn about you and your business.
- Security & Hosting Freedom. On March 3, 2011, WordPress.com was attacked and suffered a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS), the largest in the company’s history. Basically, a DDOS attack floods a web server with so many data requests that it shuts it down. This particular attack crashed over 18 million hosted blogs. Hosting your blog with a secure host is a smart move to keeping all your hard work safe. With a service-hosted blog you are vulnerable to being part of a targeted cyber attack that can leave your brand reputation tarnished and your customers wondering about your level of commitment and professionalism. Diminish any opportunities for doubt or mishaps by outside groups by going the self-hosted route.
- If you are a Canadian company, show your pride in the True North, Strong and Free by going with a .ca domain name. Many Canadian companies want and need to do business with Americans too, so double up on your investment by purchasing the .com domain name as well. The .com will simply point to the .ca (or whichever way you choose to set it up) but doing this will boost your SEO rankings and protect your brand in both Canada and the US.
- A little-used strategy/trick is to purchase your name as a domain name. Your name is unique to you and sometimes people may forget the brand or business you represent but they’re likely to remember your name. This means when prospects go to a search engine and type in your name, they can be brought to your website because you will simply point this domain name to your active website as well. Again, this can boost your SEO rankings, protect your brand, and help manage your online brand and reputation. This strategy is under-utilized. Add this little nugget to your arsenal and leverage an advantage your competitors may have ignored.
And now a GREAT OFFER for you! As a special treat to my blog readers, my hosting company, A Small Orange, has offered to give my readers a special discount for those making a bundled domain name and hosting purchase from now till December 31, 2011.
Therefore, Dear Readers:
Your code is SPARKER (note caps)
Using this code will provide you with a 25% discount on hosting and domain registrations bundles for 1, 2, or 3 years (your choice). There is no limit to the number of domains you may register.
This coupon code expires once taken advantage of 300 times.
So what are you waiting for?
Is your blog self-hosted?
Do you own both the .com and .ca (or .biz, .org, .net) for your business or brand?
Do you own your name as a domain name?
If any of your answers to the above questions is no, GO RIGHT NOW and take advantage of this awesome deal! Happy domain registering, dear readers! I welcome your thoughts and opinions on why you chose to self-host and what advantages you’ve realized.